HUNTINGTON, West Virginia. While Cabell County is now listed by the WV DHHR as third among West Virginia counties for our rate of population immunized with at least one dose against COVID-19 at 62.9%, we are 11th in fully vaccinated status at just over the 50% mark. Although each fully immunized person has a reduced risk of infection, hospitalization, or death compared to an unimmunized person, our current level of community immunization is not protective against further surges of COVID disease.
In addition, according to CDC, natural immunity alone provides much less protection against hospitalization after being reinfected with COVID-19 than does the immune response to the vaccine. That is why even unimmunized persons who have had COVID disease should be immunized after recovery to gain additional protection. Finally, even with a completed primary series, immunity decreases over time. Any eligible adult who has completed an initial vaccine series, should receive a single booster dose to be better protected.
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is following CDC guidance in recommending continued indoor masking, including for family gatherings involving multiple households with mixed or unknown immunization status, while incidence indicators are High or Substantial. Cabell County is experiencing high rates of COVID-19 transmission as reported by WV DHHR, CDC, and Brown University with a rate of new cases close to 30 cases per 100,000 persons per day.
As for travelling, check the regulations of your travel method to be sure you meet their requirements. Also check the community infection rate in your destination. For WV counties, the DHHR map data will inform you, or if you are traveling out of state, maps like Brown University’s COVID Risk Map or CDC Covid Data Tracker or others can be found on the internet to help you. If travelling internationally, check additional regulations regarding pre-travel testing, vaccination requirements, or quarantine orders. For noncommercial travel inside the United States, it is recommended that unvaccinated travelers be tested 1-3 days before travel, self-quarantine for 7 days after return and test 3-5 days after return. Fully vaccinated travelers do not have to test or self-quarantine after travel.
As we shop, visit, and gather to observe our upcoming holidays, we should remember that half of the people around us could be unprotected against infection, hospitalization, or death due to COVID because they are not yet vaccinated. Some have chosen this risk, but many are not able or eligible to be vaccinated. We encourage everyone to celebrate with respect and make the effort to protect each other against this disease that has infected 1 out of 6 and killed 1 in 330 Cabell Countians to date. “Just as we dress in layers for colder weather, let’s layer up against COVID by using disinfection, ventilation, hygiene, distance, mask, and our best layer – vaccine” says Dr. Michael Kilkenny, CEO and Health Officer of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.
For more information on COVID-19 and holiday safety, visit our website at cabellhealth.org or call (304) 526- 3383.